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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 18, 2016

U.S. Attorney Ortiz to Probe Islamic Cemetery Proposal in Dudley

BOSTON – United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz announced today that the Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts has opened an investigation into whether there have been violations of a federal civil rights law by the town of Dudley, Mass.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is seeking to determine whether the Town has infringed on the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester’s right to religious exercise by placing unreasonable barriers to, and ultimately denying, their request for a conditional use permit to establish an Islamic cemetery in the Town.

“We are committed to protecting the rights of Americans of all faiths,” said U.S. Attorney Ortiz. “All Americans have the right to worship and to bury their loved ones in accordance with their religious beliefs, free from discrimination.  We are opening this investigation to assess whether there have been violations of federal civil rights laws in connection with the request to establish an Islamic cemetery in Dudley.” 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is authorized to investigate allegations of discriminatory treatment under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which, among other things, prohibits discrimination against any assembly or institution on the basis of religion.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office has not made any determination whether RLUIPA has been violated.

The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office was established in 2015 with the mission of enhancing federal civil rights enforcement.  For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-ma/civil-rights.

Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Component(s): 
Updated August 18, 2016